This is a follow-on from my earlier post, Whore. The upshot is that I frequently made love to (word choice very deliberate) my first ex-wife when she wanted, despite the fact she was mostly treating me like a monster at the time and I really didn't want to, and that I am very proud of acting out love that way. Please don't read this post until you've read that one.
I think that bit of my history and the pride in it have a lot to do with the failure of my second marriage, and led directly to the thing I said that I'm pretty sure made it impossible for her to keep trying with me.
Back to the first marriage again. While I was still pretty happy with my first wife, while I was still sympathizing with the endless stories of persecution, I was very unhappy with our sex life. It was much too seldom. And too tame, almost all vanilla missionary, and I'm obviously fairly kinky. And she seemed to think even the vanilla missionary was dirty and shameful. It wasn't quite the classic marriage-destroying cycle, but it was horrible for me. Besides avoiding marrying a woman who was actually going to do horrible crazy things to me, I decided that though I'd survived the first time, I could not go through a marriage with that kind of sex deprivation again.
When I met my second wife, who we'll call T., she was in a very troubled first marriage. Among other problems, T. wasn't having sex with her husband. I told her about how I had felt; we had a lot of email conversations full of deep feelings. T. started coming on to her husband, but he objected to the idea that I had prompted her to. He left her and moved in with his best friend's wife. T. and I started dating.
I told T. all about what I'd been through with my first wife when we were dating. We talked about sex a lot; intercourse, oral, anal, manual. I licked the cream out of a cream doughnut for her a couple of times; she used to fellate baby back ribs. (This doesn't count as embarrassing for either of us because we both were really into it; it was embarrassing when I did it for other friends.) I thought I explained how I felt really clearly and repeatedly; that if you love someone, and are married to them, you have sex with them, in the mood or not. If you don't get the mood, you do it for love instead. She agreed at the time; but I guess it was hormones.
Many years later, we'd told each other all our stories. In a boneheaded mistake, I'd asked her not to tell me about the bad things from her work, because of the echoes of my first wife's complaints. She only seemed to talk to me about work; and not anything interesting to me, but procedural minutia, details of meetings, panels. I was interested in her field on the popular level, I'd read some of the classic sources on my own before I met her, but I'm nowhere near following her on a technical level; she couldn't really discuss the papers she was trying to publish with me. She said I only talk about guns, religion, politics, and sex, which is close enough to true; there's lots I'd like to listen to or talk about but those are the things I brought up. I guess a classic example of the conversational divide would be if she was taking a group of students on a trip to an historic location. I'd want to hear about the history and she'd want to tell me about what permits she needed to get and which other teachers were going along. Also I'm bad at small talk; I'm a pretty good listener but unless I imagine I'm imparting some information I don't talk much.
I made most of the money, she did most of the housework. I had some kind of problem with low energy that I thought was just depression. (Been to a lot of doctors about it since, found a borderline autoimmune reaction problem like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, only acupuncture seems to help). She'd ask me to help with the housework more, and I'd improve for a week or so then fall back.
We gave each other orgasms once every week or two, in a frequently great mutual scenario. I gave her orgasms at least twice a week besides that. Mostly cunnilingus quickies before she showered in the morning; sometimes she asked to make sure it was on a day that fit her scheduled but usually I offered. I didn't need a special mood, all I needed was that I loved her. I was really feeling sexually deprived and unloved; she was feeling unloved but not deprived. I told her sometimes in a painful scene how I felt, but she'd improve for a week or so then fall back. I considered ceasing to suggest the cunnilingus, in the hope she'd start to understand how I felt if she felt deprived too, but loving her is required of a Christian husband and besides, I really enjoyed it. I don't like to come before work, it slows me down too much, so we started out not doing anything for me on these occasions.
But after the cunnilingus, when I ached for a sexy touch from her, some confirmation that she wants to do me too, she'd thank me and start telling me about her meeting schedule. Evenings she'd always be too tired, though, so morning is my only choice. I told her repeatedly about how I wanted something after licking her; some touch, an invitation to a handjob or a footjob in case I wanted something in the morning anyway, but it didn't change. Sometimes I'd ask for some compromise in the evening; like I'd ask her to put an arm around me, or let me suck her toes, while I masturbated. I wanted to be sharing it with her instead of doing it alone; but despite her being polite and kind I always feel ashamed after something like that. Not like I was too servile, but like it was coarse and disgusting of me to ask when she wasn't in the mood. She was doing me a pure favor that she'd prefer to skip, and I felt it. I felt masturbating alone was less offensive but still an offense because of the porn. Porn was another thing that she told me would be fine before the marriage, but she began to dislike it.
I withdrew a bit. She didn't want to talk about sex, guns, politics, or religion with me. So I'd talk about something else that interested me. I'd say something like "Aw, I just found out the tuatara isn't really a living rhynchosaur. But maybe it's for the best because it made a really disappointing rhynchosaur; just a weird little lizard." (True example.) What was she going to say?
I tried not to withdraw. I'd walk into her home office and sit down and try to chat with her, but I was disturbing her from the work that seemed like the only thing she cared about.
At several points over the years I suggested we talk to a marriage counsellor, but she never wanted to. We got into the classic marriage-destroying vicious feedback cycle; insufficient sex made me feel less loved, feeling unloved made me express less love, me not expressing love made her feel less loved, feeling less loved made her less in the mood for sex. Repeat.
A bit before she left, I tried talking with her about the problems again. I talked about the sex problems, that I just wanted a handjob the same way I gave her cunnilingus, and she explained that she wasn't in the mood and didn't feel good about it if she wasn't in the mood. I know most people feel this way, and though I've really really tried, I just can't get it. You love someone, so you smile at them, put your hand on their genitals, and move it around. I can't understand not getting your spouse off, I don't sympathize. And she knew that, and it must have made her feel deeply judged and found wanting.
And that's where I said the really wrong thing. I'd been sensing she felt the necessity of the mood, but depending on mood was my nightmare that I'd tried so hard to make sure she didn't feel before we were married. When she said it I started crying and blurted, "Then I'm trapped." And that, I'm pretty sure, is where she gave up. She said, "No you're not. You could leave." I said "No, I can't."
I tried to resolve it after that, but her mind was already made up. With what I'd said, I made sure she wasn't doing it for me, but she wasn't. She didn't want to spend any more energy explaining the problem; the only thing I got from her was that she had trusted me with her emotional well-being and I hadn't taken care of it. (And I felt that was too damn much to put on me.)